Central Montana: A Winter Wonderland
When the first snowflakes begin to fall, Central Montana has a wealth of activities to enjoy. If you're a skier, you'll be able to hit the slopes at Showdown Ski Area, southeast of Great Falls, Bear Paw Ski Bowl near Havre or Teton Pass Ski Resort west of Choteau. Nearby, you'll find a well-maintained cross-country ski trail system and an extensive network of backcountry trails for snowmobiling. Ice fishing is popular throughout the region, with trout, walleye, and Northern pike among the most popular catches.
- Bear Paw Ski Bowl: Dubbed Steep -n- Deep by the locals, Bear Paw Ski Bowl is located 29 miles south of Havre on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. Top elevation is exactly one mile with a 900 foot vertical drop. Of 10 ski runs, half are advanced and the other half intermediate. Food can be purchased in the warming lodge and ski rentals can be found in Havre. 406-265-8404.
- Showdown Mountain: With a top elevation of 8200 feet and 1400 feet of vertical drop, Showdown Montana offers a wide range of skiing opportunities. Showdown has 34 pristine runs with the longest measuring 2 miles. Downhill and telemark skis, snowboards, snowbikes and snowshoes are available for rent. Full service lodge includes a grill, saloon, day-care, pro-shop and coffee bar. 800-433-0022.
- Teton Pass: Teton Pass Ski Area encompasses 400 acres with a top elevation of 7400 feet. It’s located just 35 miles west of Choteau, and offers 25 downhill runs, cross-country trails as well as snowmobile trails. There is a day-use lodge and downhill ski rentals are available. 406-466-2209.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
- Beaver Creek Park: An ideal setting for cross-country skiing can be found south of Havre in the Bears Paw Mountains. With two lakes close by and ample scenery, it's a natural.
- Green Pole and Rock Creek: Located 35 miles southwest of Lewistown, Green Pole and Rock Creek offer excellent cross-country trails.
- Showdown Montana: Located in the Little Belt Mountains southeast of Great Falls, the area offers beautiful scenery for cross-country skiing. There are maps at the ranger station or at Showdown Montana.
- Silver Crest: Silver Crest has 18 km of marked and groomed cross-country touring trails, just 7 miles south of Neihart at Kings Hill Winter Recreation area. Three warming huts offer pause along the trails. Three miles of snowshoe trails are available in the interior of the ski trail system.
- Teton Pass: Besides offering a variety of cross-country trails, Teton Pass boasts a day-use lodge for those weary feet. Teton Pass can be found 35 miles west of Choteau.
- Belt: Near the town of Belt, there are many opportunities for snowmobile enthusiasts. For trail maps, call 406-236-5511.
- Choteau: 29 miles northwest of Choteau, at South Fork Waldron, there are 5 miles of marked snowmobile trails.
- Havre: There are several excellent areas for snowmobiling near Beaver Creek Park. Be sure to watch out for nearby cross-country skiers.
- Kings Hill: In the Little Belt Mountains southeast of Great Falls, the Kings Hill recreation area has more than 200 miles of marked snowmobile trails. Follow the trailheads off Highway 89 for these popular loop trails, big powder playgrounds and spectacular panoramic views.
- Lewistown: Try the Big Snowy Mountains near Crystal Lake for great snowmobiling. Lewistown is nearby, so running out of fuel is never a problem.
- Stanford/Utica: Discover the Little Belt Trail southwest of Utica and marvel at the unspoiled beauty of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The trail winds all along the Judith River throughout the South Fork Canyon.
- Teton Pass: Teton Pass offers snowmobilers a variety of snowmobile trails and the close proximity of a day-use lodge.
Click here for downloadable snowmobile maps of the Lewis & Clark National Forest.
- Choteau: Enjoy ice fishing on nearby Bynum Reservoir and Eureka Lake. There are many other favorite local spots, so ask around town to find out where the fish are biting best!
- Conrad: Arrod Lake, located between Conrad and Choteau, is a great place to try your hand at ice fishing.
- Havre: With Beaver Creek Park so close, there are ample ice fishing opportunities. Fresno Reservoir, 17 miles west of Havre, also has excellent ice fishing for trout and walleye.
- Lewistown: There are four different lakes around Lewistown that are great ice fishing spots. Check out Ackley Lake, Carter's Pond, Hanson Creek Dam and East Fork Dam.
- Martinsdale: Martinsdale Reservoir south of town and Bair Reservoir west on US Highway 12 offer area anglers ample ice fishing opportunities.
- Valier: Lake Frances is a popular ice fishing spot, and you're sure to find that the local folks will lend you a hand should you need it.
Other Winter Activities in Central Montana
- Ice boating: Try this sport at either Freezeout Lake near Fairfield, Lake Frances near Valier, or Priest Butte Lake near Choteau.
- Hunting: Central Montana offers excellent hunting during the fall and winter months for upland game birds, waterfowl and big game.
- Snowshoeing: Make your tracks at Teton Pass on the Rocky Mountain Front or Kings Hill in the Little Belt Mountains. Snowshoe rentals and naturalist-escorted snowshoe tours are available at Showdown Montana.
- Ice Skating: For less strenuous winter fun, check out the ponds, lakes and reservoirs throughout Central Montana. Remember when skating outdoors to be aware of ice conditions. Ice can be unpredictable and rough with cracks, holes or weak areas.